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Lemon Chicken Pasta has juicy chunks of seasoned chicken breast and tender bites of pasta all swimming in a creamy lemon sauce. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, making it a perfect weeknight dinner.
Weeknights can be exhausting and busy, so you need to have some fast and easy dinners in your back pocket for when you need them. Some of our other favorites include One Pot Chicken Taco Pasta, Spaghetti Pomodoro and Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
I found the recipe for this lemon chicken pasta when browsing through my mom’s old cookbooks. It was one that she’d dogeared to make, but never had gotten around to it. I thought it sounded fantastic so I rounded up the ingredients to make it.
We love lemon so this recipe was perfect for us. It’s got a good amount of tart lemon flavor, and the bit of cream cheese in the sauce provides creaminess and elevates the tang of the lemon. The instructions are easy and move quickly, so have everything prepped in advance. First you’ll start cooking the pasta, then cook the chicken, then make the sauce. Easy peasy, Lemon Chicken Pasta squeezy!
How to Make Lemon Chicken Pasta
The pasta. Generously salt and boil a pot of water. The water should taste like the ocean in order to properly flavor the pasta. You can use any small pasta you like. I chose farfalle or bowtie pasta, but you can also use penne, rotini, or orecchiette. The goal is to have the pasta be roughly the same size or a little smaller than the pieces of chicken. Cook to al dente (tender, with a slight “bite” to it), drain and set aside. Meanwhile…
The chicken. Cut up some chicken breast into strips or chunks. Like I mentioned, you want the pasta and chicken to be roughly the same size, so cut the chicken according to the pasta you’re using. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook the chicken for a few minutes per side. Let it sit and sizzle in order to get a nice sear. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm, and then…
The sauce. Add low sodium chicken broth, lemon juice, and cream cheese to the pan you used for the chicken. Whisk it constantly until the cream cheese is totally melted, then add lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. I strongly suggest adding the cheese a little at a time so it can melt properly. Dumping it all in at once can result in a lumpy mess.
The finished dish. Add the chicken and pasta to the sauce and stir Lemon Chicken Pasta to combine and coat well. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with fresh minced parsley. For extra tartness, squeeze a lemon over the top and serve with lemon wedges.
Storage, Reheating and Freezing
Storing leftovers – Let your leftovers cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing – I don’t really recommend freezing recipes with creamy sauces because they can be difficult to reheat. That said, you can freeze in a freezer safe dish for up to 3 months.
Reheating – If reheating from frozen, thaw in the fridge first. From the fridge, I recommend reheating in a pan on the stovetop so you can constantly stir. If you want to microwave, heat at 50% power, add a splash of milk or cream, and stir every 30-45 seconds for best results.
Serve your Lemon Chicken Pasta dinner with some colorful veggies, like Oven Roasted Broccoli, Garlic Green Beans or Grilled Zucchini. Cold salads are a great starter or side, too, like my Olive Garden Salad Copycat, Wedge Salad or Mediterranean Green Bean Salad. To stretch your dinner a little further, serve a loaf of crusty Italian bread with it.
Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe Notes
- Do salt the water when cooking the pasta. The water should taste like the ocean but the pasta won’t.
- To save time, you can just cook the pasta and the sauce and use precooked chicken you have leftover or from a rotisserie.
- If you want more lemon flavor, adjust the amount of juice and zest.
- Make this a complete meal by stirring in veggies like steamed broccoli or asparagus, or fresh tomatoes or spinach.
More delicious chicken pasta recipes
- Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- One Pot Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta
- One Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles
- Creamy Chicken Casserole
Lemon Chicken Pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into ¼” inch strips
- ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups uncooked farfalle, rotini, or penne pasta
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Boil water in a medium pot, and salt generously. Add the dry pasta and cook according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté briefly, about 15 seconds. Add chicken strips. Sauté 2 minutes per side or until no longer pink. Pro-tip: Let chicken sizzle in the hot skillet, untouched, to get that golden brown sear.
- Remove chicken from skillet; transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add broth, lemon juice and cream cheese to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes or until cream cheese melts, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, adding the cheese a little bit at a time and whisking with each addition to melt. Stir in chicken and pasta; cook one minute.
- Garnish with lemon slices or wedges and fresh minced parsley.